The European Commission (EC) has named the city of Leuven in Belgium the European Capital of Innovation for its excellent innovation concepts as well as systems that create a framework that bring ideas to life.
Leuven aims to become one of Europe’s Labs of the Future through an operating model that encourages collaborative innovation. Different groups of stakeholders work together to seek solutions to the challenges the city faces – with its citizens actively involved in testing the ideas.
“Our innovation model goes beyond technological progress. Together with residents, organisations, businesses and knowledge institutions we are working every day towards a better future – for Leuven and far beyond,” said mayor Mohamed Ridouani. “This type of in-depth cooperation is now being acknowledged and rewarded by Europe. By constantly reconnecting the many diverse forces in our city, the solutions of tomorrow first take shape here. Our mission is to lead the way towards a sustainable and prosperous future with and for everyone.”
Some key innovative projects and initiatives include:
- Leuven 2030: more than 600 partners are working together to develop and implement a climate transition strategy;
- Tomorrow: under the Horizon 2020 project, Leuven is a lighthouse for the development of a city climate roadmap;
- Leuven MindGate: an innovation ecosystem made up of companies, knowledge institutions, and the government, making Leuven one of the world’s prime regions for health, high-tech and creativity;
- Leuven, Co-Create!: an initiative which calls for citizens to submit their ideas on how to make Leuven a better place to live, work, and play;
- The transformation of Leuven’s Frederik Lintsstraat into a ‘climate street’ with sustainable homes, mobility, and consumption;
- Leuven Helps: an online platform launched during the Covid-19 crisis which connects those in need with thousands of volunteers; and,
- Co-creating education: the citywide network developed ‘Leuven Learns’ during the Covid-19 crisis – a tool that connects teachers, students, experts, and volunteers to facilitate the transition to e-learning.
“Leuven is a future laboratory for Europe. The solutions for the future happen here first and are tested here. “ said Ridouani. “We are a city of students, researchers, entrepreneurs and residents spanning 163 different nationalities. By constantly reconnecting these diverse forces in Leuven, the solutions of tomorrow take shape here. Our model of radical cooperation and engaged leadership can be a blueprint for other European cities.”